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The earliest sources of Notker's sequences: St Gallen, Vadiana 317, and Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale lat. 10587*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2008

Susan Rankin
Emmanuel College, Cambridge


‘This little book has verses of composed modulamen, so that he who wishes to be retentive may hold on to his breath.’ With this elegiac distich Notker Balbulus concluded the preface dedicating his Liber ymnorum to Liutward, Bishop of Vercelli, abbot of Bobbio, archchaplain and chancellor to the then emperor, Charles the Fat. The collection of sequences must have been sent to Liutward during 884, since by December of that year Notker had broken off work on his Metrum de vita sancti Galli, mentioned in the preface to the Liber ymnorum as in the process of preparation. The genesis of the book of sequences can be traced farther back: Notker tells in his preface how, on showing verses to his teacher Iso, corrections were proposed. Later he presented some ‘little verses’ to his teacher Marcellus (the Irish monk Moengal) who ‘with joy’ collected them on parchment scrolls (rotulae) and gave them to his students to sing. Marcellus died at St Gallen in 871, Iso in the same year at the monastery of Moutier-Grandval, where he had been sent to teach some time previously. Many of the ‘versus modulaminis apti’ must have been composed already by 871.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1991

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1 The classic edition and study of the Liber ymnorum is by von den Steinen, W., Notker der Dichter und seine geistige Welt, 2 vols. (Berne, 1948)Google Scholar. See also Crocker, R. L., The Early Medieval Sequence (Berkeley, 1977)Google Scholar, with an English translation of Notker's preface (pp. 1–2). In the distichon reproduced above, modulamen (meaning ‘melody’ or the like) is used in the genitive singular; the translation is thus more literal than that of Von den Steinen, : ‘Dies Büchlein bringt Verse mit zugehörigem melodischem Vortrag’ (Notker der Dichter, ii, p. 11)Google Scholar, where mit corresponds less directly to a music–text relationship in which the quintessential factor is that texts are composed to fit pre-existent melodies. I thank David Howlett and Michael Lapidge for their advice on the translation of this distich.

2 Von den Steinen, , Notker der Dichter, i, pp. 507, 526Google Scholar. On Notker's literary works see Stotz, P. and Haefele, H., ‘Notker i. von St Gallen’, Die deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters Verfasserlexikon, vi (2nd edn, Berlin and New York, 1987), cols. 1186–210Google Scholar.

3 The date of Iso's departure from St Gallen is not known. During that period when both Iso and Moengal taught at St Gallen, the Irish monk had the responsibility for the inner (monastic) school, the native Alemann that of the outer (canonic) school. On Iso see especially Duft, J., ‘Iso monachus – doctor nominatissimus’, Churrätisches und st. gallisches Mittelalter: Festschrift für Otto P. Clavadetscher, ed. Maurer, H. (Sigmaringen, 1984), pp. 129–71Google Scholar.

4 For the most recent discussions see Hucke, H., ‘Die Anfänge der Bearbeitung’, Schweizer Jahrbuch für Musikwissenschaft, 3 (1982), pp. 1520Google Scholar, and ‘Zur melodischen Überlieferung der Tropen’, Liturgische Tropen, ed. Silagi, G., Münchener Beiträge zur Mediävistik und Renaissance-Forschung 36 (Munich, 1985), pp. 107–24Google Scholar; Haug, A., Gesungene und schriftlich dargestellte Sequenz: Beobachtungen zum Schriftbild der ältesten ostfränkischen Sequenzenhandschriften (Neuhausen-Stuttgart, 1987), especially ‘Notker und die Neumenschrift’, pp. 20–1Google Scholar.

5 On Latin literary culture at St Gallen see Berschin, W., Eremus und Insula: St Gallen und die Reichenau im Mittelalter - Modell einer lateinischen Literaturlandschaft (Wiesbaden, 1987)Google Scholar, with detailed bibliography. On script and literacy at St Gallen see McKitterick, R., The Carolingians and the Written Word (Cambridge, 1989)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, passim, especially ch. 3.

6 On the contrast between East and West Frankish patterns of transmission, and their relation to compositional procedures, see Schlager, K., ‘Beobachtungen zur frühen Sequenz in ost- und westfränkischer Überlieferung’, Gordon Athol Anderson (1929–1981): In memoriam, 2 vols. ed. Dittmer, L., Musicological Studies 39 (Henryville, Ottawa and Binningen, 1984), pp. 531–43Google Scholar.

7 See especially Hucke, ‘Überlieferung’, pp. 107–8. On the authenticity of Notker's report see Duft, Johannes, ‘Le “Presbyter de Gimedia” apporte son antiphonaire à Saint-Gall’, Jumièges: Congrès scientifique du XIIIe centenaire, 2 vols. (Rouen, 1955), ii, pp.925–36Google Scholar, and Wie Notker zu den Sequenzen kam’, Zeitschrift für schweizerische Kirchengeschichte, 56 (1962), pp. 201–14Google Scholar.

8 von den Steinen, W., ‘Die Anfänge der Sequenzendichtung’, Zeitschrift für schweizerische Kirchengeschichte, 40 (1946), pp. 190212 and 241–68, especially 253Google Scholar; 41 (1947), pp. 19–48 and 122–62; see also Von den Steinen, , Notker der Dichter, ii, pp. 192ffGoogle Scholar, ‘Zur Überlieferungsgeschichte des Liber ymnorum’, and Crocker, , Early Medieval Sequence, pp. 5 and 425–6Google Scholar.

9 Scherrer, G., Verzeichniss der Manuscripte und Incunabeln der Vadianischen Bibliothek in St Gallen (St Gallen, 1864), pp. 84–6;Google ScholarBischoff, B., ‘Bücher am Hofe Ludwigs des Deutschen und die Privatbibliothek des Kanzlers Grimalt’, Mittelalterliche Studien, 3 (Stuttgart, 1981), pp. 187212, especially 199Google Scholar. The Vadiana collection is housed in the Kantonsbibliothek (earlier the Stadtbibliothek). I thank Frau Helen Thurnheer of the Kantonsbibliothek for her kind assistance during my visits to the library. I also thank Bernhard Bischoff for his generous help concerning the dating of hands in the Vadiana manuscript.

10 Although used by Von den Steinen for his Liber ymnorum edition, the fragment was not mentioned in Husmann, H., Tropen- und Sequenzenhandschriften, RISM B/v/1 (Munich, 1964). On the dating, see under the manuscript description belowGoogle Scholar.

11 Hoffmann, H., Buchkunst und Königtum im ottonischen und frühsalischen Reich, 2 vols. (Stuttgart, 1986), i, p. 390Google Scholar. I am most grateful to Professor Hoffmann for sending me copies of his photographs from the Paris manuscript.

12 See the entries in Scherrer, , Vadianische Bibliothek, pp. 84–6Google Scholar, and Bruckner, A., Schreibschulen der Diözese Konstanz: St Gallen, Scriptoria Medii Aevi Helvetica: Denkmäler Schweizerischer Schreibkunst des Mittelalters 2–3 (Geneva, 1936 and 1938), ii, p. 54Google Scholar.

13 The watermark is Crown-i, 325a, in Piccard, G., Die Kronenwasserzeichen, Findbuch I (Stuttgart, 1961)Google Scholar.

14 Scherrer, , Vadiana, p. 86Google Scholar, and Bruckner, , Schreibschulen, ii, p. 54Google Scholar.

15 Bischoff, ‘Bücher’, p. 199.

16 In addition to Bischoff, ‘Bücher’, see the entry for Grimald in Duft, J., Gossi, A. and Vogler, W., Die Abtei St Gallen (St Gallen, 1986), pp. 105–7Google Scholar, and Geuenich, D., ‘Beobachtungen zu Grimald von St Gallen, Erzkappelan und Oberkanzler Ludwigs des Deutschen’, Litterae medii aevi: Festschrift für Johanne Autenrieth, ed. Borgolte, M. and Spilling, H. (Sigmaringen, 1988), pp. 5568Google Scholar.

17 The list is edited by Lehmann, P., Mittelalterliche Bibliothekskataloge Deutschlands und der Schweiz, i: Die Bistümer Konstanz und Chur (Munich, 1918), pp. 87–9Google Scholar.

18 Bischoff, ‘Bücher’, pp. 193ff.

19 Bischoff, ‘Bücher’, p. 212.

20 In a letter of 14 February 1987 Bischoff revises his earlier opinion of the date of this hand; in Mittelalterliche Studien (p. 199), he had estimated that the sequences were added towards the end of the ninth century.

21 Recent discussion has confirmed the older, much disputed tradition that Gallus had come from Ireland with Columbanus; see Berschin, W., ‘Gallus abbas vindicatus’, Historisches Jahrbuch, 95 (1975), pp. 257–77Google Scholar.

22 On the abbreviated version of Alleluia, see Haug, , Gesungene und schriftlich dargestellte Sequenz, p. 37Google Scholar.

23 For example, the Mainz Troper (British Library Add. 19768) has exactly the same wide-angled pes.

24 Concerning the relation of Notker's sequences to alleluia melodies see Stäblein, B., ‘Notkeriana’, Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, 19–20 (19621963), pp. 8499Google Scholar, and Crocker, , Early Medieval Sequence, passim, especially pp. 1213Google Scholar.

25 The numbering of the ‘supplément latin’, the last shelfmark system to precede the present one, appears to follow a rough chronological pattern. The numbers 1005–16 were given to a collection of manuscripts bought from the sale of the Bibliothèque de Rosny in 1837 see Delisle, L., Le cabinet des manuscripts de la Bibliothèque impériale, ii (Paris, 187?), p. 294Google Scholar; the numbers 1017 and 1018 went to the Gradual of St Evroul (now fonds lat. 10508) and to the seventeenth-century copy of the Office of the Circumcision of Sens, both manuscripts recorded as entering the library in 1837.

26 The numbering of strophes is based on the edition by Von den Steinen, , Notker der Dichter, iiGoogle Scholar; for details of what is preserved, see also his description of the manuscript (ii, p. 204).

27 Delisle, L., Inventaire des manuscrits latins conservés à la Bibliothèque impériale sous les nos 8823–18613 du fonds latin (Paris, 1863);Google ScholarVon den Steinen, , Notker der Dicker, ii, p. 204Google Scholar, and Hoffmann, , Buchkunst, i, p. 390Google Scholar.

28 Hoffmann, , ‘St Gallen’, Buchkunst, i, pp. 366ffGoogle Scholar; see also Bruckner, , Schreibschulen, ii, pp. 2445Google Scholar, and Daniel, N., ‘Die Sankt Galler karolingische Minuskel in der zweiten Hälfte des neunten Jahrhunderts’, Handschriften des zehnten Jahrhunderts aus der Freisinger Dombibliothek (Munich, 1973), pp. 1143Google Scholar.

29 On the St Gallen charters of this period see Wartmann, H., ed., Urkundenbuch der Abtei Sanct Gallen, i: 700–840 (Zürich, 1863), ii: 840–920 (Zürich, 1866)Google Scholar; Clavadetscher, O. P. and Staerkle, P., eds., Die Dorsualnotizen der älteren St. Galler Urkunden (St Gallen, 1970)Google Scholar; and Borgolte, M., Geuenich, D. and Schmid, K., Subsidia Sangallensia, i: Materialen und Untersuchungen zu den Verbrüderungsbüchern und zu den älteren Urkunden des Stiftsarchivs St. Gallen (St Gallen, 1986)Google Scholar.

30 See Hoffmann, , Buchkunst, i, p. 390Google Scholar, for a precise description of the letter forms of this script.

31 Cantatorium no 359 de la Bibliothèque de Saint-Gall (IXe siècle), Paléographie Musicale, 2nd series, 2 (Tournai, 1924)Google Scholar; a more recent facsimile edition (with less clarity, but including the extra material at the beginning and end of the manuscript) is Die Handschrift St. Gallen Stiftsbibliothek 359 Cantatorium, Monumenta Palaeographica Gregoriana 3 (Münsterschwarzach, n.d.).

32 See Duft, J. and Schnyder, R., Die Elfenbein-Einbände der Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen (Beuron, 1984)Google Scholar.

33 Von den Steinen, , Notker der Dichter, i, pp. 560–2Google Scholar.

34 For a variety of reasons, the incipit notice is missing from the St Gallen prosers in Stiftsbibliothek 376, 382 and 375.

35 Von den Steinen, , Notker der Dichter, i, pp. 366 and 520Google Scholar.

36 Wartmann, Urkundenbuch, nos. 344 (19 Oct 833), 433, 434, 435, 449, 453, 454, 477, 479, 503, 519, 527, 569, 570, 573, 586, 587, 588, 590, 591 etc.; see also the catalogue of invocations by Santifaller, L., ‘Über die Verbal-Invokation in den älteren Papsturkunden’, Römische historische Mitteilungen, 3 (1958/1959 and 1959/1960), pp. 18113Google Scholar; on Trinitarian invocations see especially pp. 42, 93–101.

37 See the highly informative study by Fichtenau, H., ‘Zur Geschichte der Invokationen und “Devotionsformeln”’, in Fichtenau, H., Beiträge zur Mediävistik, ii: Urkundenforschung (Stuttgart, 1977), pp. 3761Google Scholar.

38 Fichtenau, ‘Invokationen’, p. 41 and n. 12.

39 Louis the Pious's charters begin ‘In nomine domini dei et salvatoris nostri Iesu Christi’. Besides distinguishing his charters from those of his father, Louis's formula alludes directly to his programme of European unification under a Christian regime.

40 On the Formelbuck see the Verfasserlexikon, cols. 1194–8, and especially von den Steinen, W., ‘Notker des Dichters Formelbuch’, Zeischrift für schweizerische Geschichte, 25 (1945), pp. 449–90Google Scholar.

41 Ed. Zeumer, K., Formulae Merowingici et Karolini aevi, Monumenta Germaniae Historiae, Legum sectio v (Hanover, 1886), 395–7Google Scholar.

42 Santifaller, ‘Verbal-Invokation’, p. 96, and Fichtenau, ‘Invokationen’, pp. 42ff.

43 Alcuin, , Opera omnia, ed. Migne, J.-P., Patrologia latina, ci (Paris, 1851), cols. 9–58Google Scholar.

44 The list of books in Grimald's private collection includes the entry ‘Albini ad Karolum de fide libri iii et eiusdem ad Fridogisum de sancta trinitate’; Lehmann, , Mittelalterliche Bibliothekskataloge, p. 89Google Scholar.

45 Stiftsbibliothek 14 consists, up to the middle of p. 331, of a collection of Old Testament books copied in a hand of s. ix1. The lower half of p. 331 is reproduced in Von den Steinen, , Notker der Dichter, iiGoogle Scholar, Tafel 3. On Notker's hand see idem, i, p. 520, and Rankin, S., ‘Ego itaque Notker scripsi’, Revue Bénédictine, 101 (1991, forthcoming)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

46 Hoffmann, , Buchkunst, i, p. 390Google Scholar.

47 The pattern of Notker's organisation of the work of other scribes can be traced in several books remaining in the Stiftsbibliothek; see Rankin, ‘Ego itaque Notker scripsi’.

48 On the relation of libelli to liturgico-musical transmission, see Huglo, M., ‘Codicologie et musicologie’, Miscellanea codicologica F. Masai dicata, ed. Cockshaw, P., Garand, M.-C. and Jodogne, P. (Ghent, 1979), pp. 7182Google Scholar; and Huglo, M., Les livres de chant liturgique (Turnhout, 1988), pp. 64ffGoogle Scholar.

49 Von den Steinen, , Notker der Dichter, ii, pp. 192ffGoogle Scholar.

50 Idem, i, pp. 347ff. He describes Laus tibi Christe qui humilis in these terms: ‘Die Sequenz, in Sankt Gallen früh neben die notkerische gestellt, aber auswärts wenig verbreitet, hat viel und gut von dem Meister des Hymnenbuches gelernt …. So wären lebendige Verbindungen mit Notker viele zu zeigen.’ ‘This sequence – at St Gallen set alongside Notker's [Laus tibi Christe qui sapit] at an early date, but not widely transmitted outside the monastery – has absorbed much of the art of the “Liber ymnorum Master” … in many respects, deep connections with Notker's work can be demonstrated.’

51 I have calculated this precisely, comparing numbers of words per page in the extant parts of P with the lengths of missing texts.

52 For more details of the Verona sequences see Von den Steinen, , ‘Anfänge’, Zeitschrift für schweizerische Kirchengeschichte, 40 (1946), pp. 253–6Google Scholar; for a study of the whole manuscript see Meersseman, G. G., ‘Il codice xc della Capitolare di Verona’, Archivio Veneto, 104 (1975), pp. 1144Google Scholar.

53 The sequences and their relation to the rest of clm 14843 are discussed in Von den Steinen, , ‘Anfänge’, Zeitschrift für schweizerische Kirchengeschichte, 40 (1946), pp. 256–63Google Scholar; see also Husmann, , Tropen- und Sequenzenhandschriften, pp. 78–9Google Scholar.

54 Page 255 of Stiftsbibliothek MS 50 is reproduced in Bruckner, , Schreibschulen, ii, Tafel 18Google Scholar.

55 For the texts, not only of St Gallen sequences, but of those of the whole ‘German’ (East Frankish) tradition in general, Von den Steinen has noted the same tendency towards conservatism in transmission (‘sie sind fast immer fehlerlos überliefert’), contrasting with West Frankish transmission, in which variants were commonly introduced (Notker der Dichter, i, p. 84)Google Scholar.

56 This is the sense in which I understand the arguments presented by Haug: ‘Wenn er auswendig gewusst wird, leistet der dem Melisma angepasste Text eine schriftanaloge Hilfe beim Festhalten der Melodie, auch ohne selber aufgeschrieben zu sein’ (Gesungene und schriftlich dargestellte Sequenz, p. 20).

57 Their absence in P in no way implies that they had not yet been thought of at this time; in any case, the historical tradition which linked them with Notker has every chance of being authentic. See Froger, J., ‘L'épître de Notker sur les “lettres significatives”’, Études grégoriennes, 5 (1962), pp. 2371Google Scholar.

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